Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Coach Dipple and The Rise of The Ape!

The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles
- Isaiah 40:28-31

I still remember the stink of the locker room,  the 6:30 am practices and especially the excitement that came when we finally got to put our helmets on.   This was seventh-grade football in Weatherford, OK and we were finally Eagles!

Perhaps it was because I'd had a fantastic growth spurt in the sixth grade or maybe it was just that the other guy lost his footing at the precise moment when I gained a little traction.  It all happened the day we first went "head to head".   The whistle was blown and I flew out of my three-point-stance instantly knocking the other guy on his back.

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. - Prov. 18:21

Our stoic coach, who as I recall wore a kind of constant grimace that teetered between a smile and look of total exasperation, started jumping up and down with excitement at that moment.   He then proceeded to crown me "Magilla Gorilla" and name me starting right guard (no deodorant jokes please).   I am not an athlete at all, but for a few, brief, shining moments athleticism was imputed to me by one man, one coach, Max Dipple.  I was ecstatic and a football player was literally "raised up" at that moment!
It never occurred to me to research who "Magilla Gorilla" was.  It was 1990 in Western Oklahoma and we couldn't have imagined the Internet accessibility we enjoy these days.   It turns out "Magilla" was a big, clumsy, sweet cartoon gorilla on television from 1964-1967 (before my time!) who languished in the pet store window eating bananas and becoming a constant financial drain on his owner who could never sell him.

In my mind when Coach Dipple uttered those words to me, he'd conferred upon me the characteristics of a rugged, savage beast and that season I fought hard to live up to the title.

But alas, it did not last long.   The other boys caught up with me in size by our Freshman year and not nearly aggressive enough to compete well in high school football, my interest waned.   Yet after years of being looked over at recess when it came time to pick teams, for that short time in seventh-grade,  I knew what it was to be a starter because I believed I was "Magilla Gorilla".  Why?   Because that's what Coach had called me. 

No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. - Gen. 17:5

God did a miraculous thing with a 99-year-old Abram even though his wife, Sarah, was barren.  God made a covenant with them that He would birth a "multitude of nations" through them.   At that moment because God had forever altered their destinies and enjoined Himself to them through His covenant, He changed Abram's name to Abraham meaning literally "father of many nations".  

His very name would now be a reminder of the work that would be done according to God's faithfulness even though it had yet to be done!  His identity was no longer that of a fatherless old man but of a man who awaited God's faithfulness to bring to completion that good work He'd begun (Phil 1:6) though His covenant promise.

Recounting the event to the Christians in Rome Paul (formerly Saul, also given a new name by God) wrote..... 

as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist
- Rom 4:17

The same God that spoke all creation into existence has the power to call things that are not as though they are.   In calling the childless Abram "The Father of Many Nations" God was leading Abraham to believe who He would make him to be.  

Many years later God performed the miracle that all other miracles only and always pointed to.  In Jesus Christ, God spoke forgiveness and consequently, righteousness over those who receive the gift of faith to believe in His Son's atoning work.

Our sins, when laid upon Christ, were yet personally ours, not his; so his righteousness, when put upon us, is yet personally his, not ours. - John Bunyan
When God looks at me He does not see the me that I see;  instead He sees the blameless life His Son, Jesus, lived and the perfect sacrifice He made on the cross that God and Man might be forever reconciled.  Jesus literally stands in my place and because He did (and does eternally) this sinner has a new name by His grace, Saint!

Coach Taylor's famous "war chant" for his Dillon Tigers in the fictional but "oh-so-very-true" series Friday Night Lights is "clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose". Throughout the series this man shows mountains of unmerited grace to his players by exhibiting for and inspiring them towards a fortitude and inner strength that their fragile home lives, by juxtaposition, lack.   In their going-nowhere-fast Texas town Coach Taylor's Tigers suffers the cruel realities of life (over-bearning or absent fathers, soul-crushing expectations, fear of failure, drug addicted mothers etc...) but under his tutelage and because he imputes value to their lives they in turn play like warriors with "full hearts".

Like (and yet completely unlike!) the aforementioned "Magilla Gorilla" who was raised out of this un-athletic, future song-bird, Christ's sacrifice secures the believer's salvation and newness of life (now!) because blamelessness and holiness has been imputed to us (put on us, spoken over us, created within us) by our Heavenly Father.  

I now see the power of imputation at work all around me.  In my marriage, with my children, with my friendships, even with what the world might call my enemies.    Because Jesus has loved me I can love others the same way (1st John 4:19) in His power seeing them not as I see them but a God sees them.   Christians can love others unconditionally not because they deserve it but because they're full of the love that Jesus has poured into them.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 
- Col. 3:1-4

If my "life is hidden with Christ in God" than He is able to do immeasurably more than all I ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within me (Eph. 3:20).    That fact alone is enough for me to trust that He will meet my needs according to His glorious riches (Phil. 4:19).   This trust leads to greater peace, freedom and obedience.

"But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him - 1 Cor. 2:9 

I am not yet what I will be but I am already that which by God's grace He has claimed me to be - HIS!

Grace and Peace,

ps - Friday Night Lights is the best series ever.....whatever it takes, watch all 5 seasons.....

This Week

* Wednesday Men's Group - Humility, Chapters 7 & 8 @ 2 American Center, 5th Floor (Ritcheson Law Firm)

Next Week...

* Monday Men's Lunch - Dakota's 12pm -
Andrew Murray's Classic Humility discussion of chapters 3 & 4 and prayer.

* The Magills - PraiseFest to Benefit Full Measure Ministries -  Saturday Oct. 1, 4pm - Tyler, TX

* The Magills - Pine Cove Camp Marriage Conference - Saturday Oct. 1st 7pm - Tyler, TX 



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